New International Manual
of Braille Music Notation



  • Preface
  • Compiler's Notes

  • Purpose and General Principles
  • Basic Signs
  • Clefs
  • Accidentals
  • Rhythmic Groups
  • Chords
  • Slurs and Ties
  • Tremelos
  • Fingering
  • Bar Lines and Repeats
  • Nuances
  • Ornaments
  • Theory
  • Modern Notation

  • General Organization
  • Key& Time Signatures
  • Rhythmic Groups
  • Chords
  • Slurs and Ties
  • Tremelos
  • Fingering
  • Bar Lines and Repeats
  • Nuances
  • Ornaments
  • Theory
  • Modern Notation

  • General Organization
  • Keyboard Music
  • Vocal Music
  • String Instruments
  • Wind and Percussion Instruments
  • Accordian
  • Instrumental Scores

  • Authorities for this work
  • National Signs of 16 Countries
  • Index of Signs in Standard Braille Order
  • Tables of Signs

    Other Resources
  • Contact instructor
  • Send mail to class
  • Main BRL page
  • Contractions Lookup
  • Contractions List
  • Intro Braille course
  • Transcribers course
  • Specialized Codes course


    (Table 9)

    A. Bar Lines

    Signs from Table 9 A.
    (space) Bar line
    Braille bar line for special uses
    Dotted bar line
    Double bar at end of composition
    Double bar at end of bar or section

    9-1. In addition to having a space for a bar line, a tactile bar line, may be used. When a braille character is used for a bar line, it should be preceded and followed by a space. Example 17-14 (b) illustrates its use in guitar music, and Example 12-33 illustrates its use in a theory textbook.

    9-2. When a bar line in print has a dotted or dashed line in place of a solid line, dots 1-3 are used as in example 13-5.

    9-3. The first note after a double bar usually has an octave mark.

    9-4. If a measure continues after a double bar, the music hyphen follows the double bar.

    Example 9-4.

    B. Print Repeats
    Signs from Table 9 B.

    Double bar followed by dots; beginning of repeat
    Double bar with dots preceding; end of repeat
    First, second ending (volta)
    Print segno sign
    Print coda sign

    9-5. The sign for a dotted double bar indicating the ending of a print repeat is placed without an intervening space after the measure in which it appears. If it occurs in a measure that is afterwards completed on the same braille line, it must be followed by the music hyphen and a space.

    9-6. The signs for the beginning of a print repeat and signs for numbered endings are placed without an intervening space before the first sign of the repeated material.

    9-7. When additional endings or unusual numberings occur, braille follows the print.

    Example 9-7.

    9-8. The first note following any of the above signs must have an octave mark, and the first or second endings signs must be followed by dot 3 before signs containing dots 1, 2, or 3.

    9-9. The signs for print segno and coda should appear where they do in print; they are preceded and followed by a space. Exception: in some countries the coda sign is preceded but not followed by a space.

    9-10. When the print uses text such as "D.S." or "a la Coda", this must be transcribed exactly as printed.

    9-11. Example 9-11 is a typical scenario showing the order in which segno signs generally appear along with double bars usually associated with this type of music.

    Example 9-11.

    9-12. The next note after a segno passage must have an octave mark, and any doubling in effect must be re-marked if it is to be continued.

    9-13. In braille, segnos can be created as a form of repetition. See par. 9-47.

    C. Braille Repeats

    9-14. A major difference between braille music and its print counterpart is the introduction of repeat signs that do not appear in the print. Repeats that are used judiciously can help ease reading, assist memorization and save space.

    Signs from Table 9 C.
    Full- or part-measure repeat
    Separation of repeats with different values, i.e., 7'7
    Repeat beginning in fifth (or other number) octave
    Repeat four (or other number) times
    Beginning of repeat in cadenza or unmeasured music
    Count back and repeat measures
    Repeat the last four (or other number) measures
    Repeat the last four (or other number) measures
    Repeat specific measures
    Repeat specific measures from a numbered section
    (i.e. repeat measures 9-16 from Section 2)

    1. Part-measure repeats

    9-15. The sign is used to show a repeat within a measure. It applies to what immediately precedes it. Its use involves the exercise of good judgment and musical knowledge.

    9-16. In Example 9-17, the repeat sign is used for single notes or chords in differing parts of measures, following musical beats.

    9-17. A part-measure repeat must not be the first beat of a measure or the first beat on a new braille line. (The repeat sign cannot be used for the first beat of measure 4 even though it is identical to the last beat of measure 3.)

    Example 9-17.


    9-18. Repeats should not "cross the beat" except in the most obvious and simple cases. In measure 3 of the example above, the two repeats would have been incorrect had they begun on the second half of the first beat, but the following example is normal and musical in appearance.

    Example 9-18.

    9-19. Two or more repeats following one another are of the same value. When it is desirable to have repeats of different values, they must be separated by dot 3.

    Example 9-19.


    9-20. For Example 9-19, some countries use the following form of repeat within a measure; others reserve this form for a full-measure repeat.

    Example 9-20.

    9-21. The use of the slur in combination with the part-measure repeat requires some caution. The following examples should be studied carefully.

    9-22. The use of a part measure repeat on the second and fourth beats of the following example would have given the reader incorrect information about the slurs.

    Example 9-22.

    9-23. When slurred as follows, the repeats may be used.

    Example 9-23.

    9-24. There are two types of long slurs. Care must be taken that repeats are clear.

    Example 9-24.



    9-25. The next two examples are correct.

    Example 9-25.



    9-26. A repeat does not include a tie on the last note or chord of the passage, so tie signs must be added. In some countries a tie sign is not placed at the end of a measure. It is placed before the first note of the next measure, especially if that measure is on a new line or is separated from the original repeat by an in-accord part. Other countries do place a tie at the end of a measure as in Example 9-35.

    Example 9-26.

    9-27. The part-measure repeat sign may be used for repeating a passage in a different octave from the original. The octave mark at the beginning of the repeated passage is used, even if part of the notes are in a different octave. It is placed immediately before the repeat sign.

    Example 9-27.

    9-28. Care must be taken in the doubling of intervals, etc. in connection with repeats.

    Example 9-28.

    9-29. Doubling may be continued through a repeat if it is still in effect afterwards. In Example 9-28, the doubling ended with the repeat, so it ended in braille before the repeat sign.

    9-30. Care must also be taken with nuances and other details. The second beat of the following example should not be written as a repeat.

    Example 9-30.

    9-31. When part of a measure is fingered and is followed immediately by an exact repetition without fingering, the repeat sign may be used.

    Example 9-31.

    9-32. The repetition of passages in cadenzas or unmeasured music is made possible by the use of the sign, . It is placed before the first note of the passage to be repeated. That sign is not actually a repeat sign. It is used to identify the beginning of a fragment that will be repeated. The dotted half note chords in Example 9-32 are tied over to the next measure.

    Example 9-32.


    2. Full-measure repeats

    9-33. The 7 sign may also be used for the repetition of a complete measure. In this case, it is brailled with a blank space on either side. The rules for part-measure repeats apply in general when the full-measure repeat is used. The following examples illustrate the main points.

    9-34. In Example 9-34 both forms of the long slur are shown.

    Example 9-34.




    9-35. Repeats with single-note and chord ties are illustrated below. In the longer illustrations the initial notes of runover lines may or may not start with octave marks. Different format practices are illustrated throughout this manual.

    Example 9-35.


    9-36. When a measure is repeated three or more times, the appropriate number, with numeral prefix, follows the repeat sign without an intervening space. The first note after a numeral sign usually has an octave mark.

    Example 9-36.





    9-37. The full-measure repeat may be used with an in-accord as long as the repetition stays in the same voice.

    Example 9-37.

    9-38. Another method of repeating one or more measures consists of writing two numbers together between blank spaces, the first showing how many measures must be counted back and the second showing how many of those measures are to be repeated.

    9-39. If the two numbers are identical, some countries write only one number. However, if the time signature of the piece consists of only one number, it is recommended that two identical numbers be used for the repeat rather than a single number that could be interpreted as a change of time signature.

    9-40. The first note following this type of repeat must have an octave mark.

    Example 9-40.

    9-41. This repeat may be combined with the slur as long as the phrasing is completely clear.

    Example 9-41.




    9-42. When measures are numbered in the braille text or in the print, those numbers can effectively be used for repeats. The numbers of the first and last measures of the passage to be repeated, preceded by the numeral prefix and separated by a hyphen are written as follows:

    9-43. The first note after a repeat with a numeral prefix must have an octave mark.

    9-44. In the course of a piece, if some bars are repeated in a higher or lower octave , the numbers indicating this repetition are written, preceded by the octave mark in which the repetition starts.

    9-45. Similarly, if several bars are to be repeated with a different expression mark, the numbers indicating the repetition are preceded by the characters indicating the dynamic change. Double bars or dotted double bars may also be added to repeats of various types.

    9-46. A common form of repeat in music written by sections consists of a section number followed immediately by measure numbers in the lower-cell position. The example indicates a repeat of measures 9-12 in the second section of the transcription.

    3. Braille Segno

    More signs from Table 9 C.

    Braille segno A (or B, etc.)
    Repeat back to segno A (or B, etc.)
    End of segno music to be repeated
    Coda sign
    Parallel motion
    Sequence: Continue the pattern

    9-47. Another form of repeat that is useful when the section to be repeated is at some distance from the original passage is a braille segno. The music is analyzed and treated as if segno signs appeared in print. A braille segno sign that includes a letter such as A, B, or C is placed at the beginning of the passage to be repeated. The letters reflect a position as the first, second, third, etc., segno in the piece. The end of the passage to be repeated is shown by dots 1-6, , and is followed by a space.

    9-48. At the point of repetition, the sign, , (with its appropriate letter) is used. This sign is sometimes followed without an intervening space by a number showing the number of measures to be repeated.

    9-49. The next note after a segno passage must have an octave mark, and all doubling must be re-marked.

    Example 9-49.

    4. Parallel Motion

    9-50. In keyboard music when one hand moves parallel with the other at the distance of one or more octaves, the writing of the second part may be abbreviated by substituting for its notes a single octave interval (with an appropriate octave mark where the two hands are more than one octave apart). This device may also be used in a score when one part moves parallel to another.

    Example 9-50.


    9-51. When parallel motion extends over more than two measures, the octave interval is followed without intervening space by a number, with numeral prefix, indicating the number of measures contained in the passage.

    Example 9-51.

    5. Sequence Abbreviation

    9-52. In technical studies where a melodic figure is repeated sequentially many times, it is possible to abbreviate the passage in braille by use of the sign with dots 3-6, . The figure to be abbreviated is written once or twice. For succeeding figures, only the first note is written, and it is followed by this sign.

    Example 9-52.


    9-53. The repetition must be exact with no modifications of fingering, accidentals, etc. It is generally restricted to technical studies and should be used only where correct execution is absolutely clear.

    D. Variants

    Signs from Table 9 D.

    Variant of measure (sign precedes and follows)
    Variant of two (or other number) measures
    Second (or other number) variant of measure
    Numbered variant, followed by number of measures
    (i.e., Variant 1, for 3 measures)

    9-54. When an alternate passage is provided in the print music, it can be placed as a footnote on the braille page or (in the case of very short passages) it can be joined to the measure with the in-accord sign.

    9-55. Especially for longer passages, variant signs may be used. The variant sign is preceded by a space or a number and is followed by the number of measures in that variant. No space is left between the variant sign and the music. The first note of each variant must have an octave mark. Each variant ends with an unspaced variant sign . The first note of the music following the variant(s) must also have an octave mark.

    Example 9-55.

    9-56. If there are two or more variants, these are numbered preceding the variant sign. If a passage had three variants they would be preceded respectively by the following signs.

    Example 9-56.

            9-57. In Example 9-57 four sets of fingering are to be practiced with the same notes. There are three numbered variants in addition to the original, and each is two measures long.

    Example 9-57.

    9-58. If the alternate or variation appears in small print, the small-type sign, (Table 1), should be used.

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    Copyright © 1999 the
    North Carolina Central University
    and the Governor Morehead School for the Blind

    Copyright © 1999 The Shodor Education Foundation, Inc.